Interview with Dominique Mearns Couture

I’ve always had a love of high street fashion, I get it from my mother, along with her philanthropy. My mum was a socialite on the racing scene and was such an elegant lady. She had five beautifully groomed little girls and was running a buzzing fashion business.

We had the privilege to interview celebrated Sydney designer Dominque Mearns founder of Dominque Mearns Couture. All her designs are made with luxurious materials and handcrafted. She is committed to help women in underprivileged communities. Her philosophy of giving back to the community is inspiring and her dresses are stunning, perfect for bridesmaids! Read more about her designs and work in the interview.

Tell us about yourself and your couture collection

I take making my girls feel like a goddess very seriously. The art of being a good designer is to create something elegant, almost conservative at first glance but the way it nips, tucks & hugs the female body is very flattering. For example, my playsuits can be worn with or without a bra (as can most of my garments – even for a bigger bust). These jumpsuits have under bust support and a flirty peekaboo neckline. It’s my job to create an illusion to show erogenous zones & yet leave something to the imagination. Then you turn around and whilst barely any flesh is visible, the lace back may be sheer and the silk hugs the buttocks in all the right places but is loose enough to hide any sins, with a waist band to show or create the illusion of a tiny waist. That’s my job in a nutshell, to create an effortless look that’s incredibly sophisticated but flirty & only a discerning designers’ eye knows why. That’s what differentiate elegant-sexy from the rest.

I’ve always had a love of high street fashion, I get it from my mother, along with her philanthropy. My mum was a socialite on the racing scene and was such an elegant lady. She had five beautifully groomed little girls and was running a buzzing fashion business. She balanced it all and came out a great mother on top of all that. She would watch her horses race every Saturday and she was always the most immaculately dressed lady on the race course. Her style continues to inspire me after her passing.  I’ve inherited her legacy of being a voice for others. She fought and succeeded to enable women into the horse racing fraternity and was the first woman to be invited as a lady member of the prestigious Flemington Victoria Race Club, home of The Melbourne Cup. She was known to go to her favourite high end restaurant and order 20 meals to go and deliver them to the homeless living on the street. It wasn’t uncommon to come home to an enormous stray dog, she’d adopted until she found it a home.
My husband also shares my calling to contribute back to society. He has an ethical finance company, Infinitas Asset Management and he would selflessly give his life to protect those who have no voice and never take credit for it. He’s a genius and uses this for the greater good in an industry renowned for its sharks. It’s hard keeping this secret about him when I’m so proud I want to tell the world.
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A very unique take on a bridesmaid outfit. It’s luxurious champagne coloured silk with hand beaded lace back.

What inspired you to help underprivileged women in Thai communities?
As tragic as it is child sex trafficking and slavery is more common than we know. It’s estimated 27 million people are enslaved or trafficked globally. That’s much more than the entire Australian population. Even here in Australian brothels the problem is more prevalent than we know with perpetrators receiving meagre fines and suspensions if caught. There was recently a well known brothel in Sydney where a 15 year old girl was trafficked by her mother and on her first day she serviced 18 customers in a 13 hour shift. The same is happening throughout Australia and indeed overseas. Many of the premises I refer to here are licensed, so factoring in the unlicensed ones shows it’s a huge problem. It is our duty to be a voice for these little children.

These children are often sold, lured and trafficked in the sex-trade. Destiny Rescue exists to rescue, restore, protect, empower and be a voice for the voiceless in many, many countries. Under extremely dangerous circumstances sting operations are carried out to rescue children from red light districts, brothels and sexually abusive situations.  These children are provided with schooling, counselling, vocational training and all daily needs for their transitioning back into society. Destiny Rescue offers them a safe place where they are loved and protected so they can enjoy getting back to enjoying being kids again.

A percentage of profits from every sale for DMC goes towards Destiny Rescue. To donate and do your part please go to www.destinyrescue.org

What achievements are you most proud of?
I don’t really think like that so this one is tricky to answer. Perhaps my attitude. One of giving back and feeling good when others succeed or find happiness, and all the better if I’ve helped them with that. Making a difference in someone’s life at a time when they’re in need. That gives me a great sense of achievement.
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‘Grace’ Crepe satin and lace with cascading shoulder sash with shoulder pad for angular structure.

 

Any advice for other entrepreneurs starting their own business?
Weave your own magic into your business. I’m a bit of a hippy at heart & I love sparkle so for me the magic I bring is genuine gem stones that each mean something. Like yellow Jade is good for love and health, onyx is strength & moonstone means I love you to the moon & back as does Rose Quartz.
Trust your intuition and when you get stuck & you’re not sure of the next step, close your eyes & visualise ten things you’d like to see in your future & what that looks & feels like. Write the ten things down and vuola you have meditated plus got your list of goals to get busy on. Meditating on what your life purpose is (it’s likely to do with contributing to others in your unique way) will help you focus on your next steps. I’m a strong believer in karma and in connecting to a purpose.

 

Budget. Many new designers have to have a full time job to finance their startup. It’s expensive business setting up but if you plan right you’ll seek the rewards.

 

I have a second arm to my business mentoring other start up businesses in many areas. The common thing I see is angst. It’s important to remember it’s all doable you just have to have a good plan and the right support.

 

Consult the experts – many designers are clever at their art but they have no merchant experience and so despite their wonderful creations they can’t seem to accelerate. Talking to IT, PR, & import/export experts is important in that case. For example it’s ok to build your own store on Shopify, they’re excellent, but consult an IT expert to make sure you leverage off the SEO power available to you to get your brand out there. A PR expert will help share your story to the right people but only you know the story of the magic behind your designs so really be involved in the PR process. The biggest angst will come from the rules of importing and exporting. A lot of my clients find this extremely overwhelming and after a session with me they feel completely at ease. Given there are many mine fields with importing, ACCC regulations like material composition being what it says it is and in the correct percentages, labelling requirements, even testing requirements on children’s clothing for example, concern of pests with natural fibres like silk and cotton threatening customs delays. Even knowing how to price can be overwhelming but it’s all possible with the right support network.
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This silk Madam Butterfly Gown has my signature ruffle sleeve. It can be with or without the crystal butterfly.

 


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